Goaltender Roberto Luongo spent his Junior career listening to comparisons to Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur while he showed great poise and skill in the QMJHL as well as with the Canada's National Junior team. Luongo led two different QMJHL franchises all the way to the Memorial Cup (Val d'Or in 1998 and Acadie-Bathurst in 1999) and also back stopped Canada to a silver medal at the 1998 World Junior Championships, during his stellar Junior career.
Drafted 4th overall in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders, Luongo, a classic butterfly goaltender with good size and lightning fast reflexes, was supposed to spend his first season as a professional learning the North American game in the minors, but injuries and the trade of Felix Potvin led to Luongo joining the Islanders earlier then expected.
The rookie goaltender played 24 games with New York and managed to post a .904 save percentage and one shutout. The season ended with Luongo impressing NHL observers with his solid play during his baptism by fire, and he was widely heralded as the best young goaltender in hockey. Those same observers were shocked at the 2000 NHL Entry Draft when New York General Manger Mike Milbury dropped a bombshell. The Islanders traded Luongo, along with forward Olli Jokinen to the Florida Panthers in exchange for wingers Mark Parrish and Oleg Kvasha.
In Florida Luongo teamed with veteran goaltender Trevor Kidd and played solid hockey with five shutouts, a 2.44 goals against average and a solid .920 save percentage, but overall the team disappointed. Eventhough the team disappointed, Luongo's one-ice performance caught the eye Canada's World Championship team brass and he became a member of its team in 2001.
During the 2001-02 season, the Panthers began a full-scale rebuilding effort by trading away superstar Pavel Bure and bringing in new coach Mike Keenan and Luongo became the major building block that the franchise would launch from. Once again he delivered a spectacular performance with a 2.77 goals against average and a .915 save percentage despite a team in transition playing in front of him. In 2002-03, Luongo was the workhorse for the Panthers seeing action in 65 of 82 games, while establishing at the time a career high in wins with 20 and lowering his goals against average to 2.71. He followed that season with even more impressive numbers in 2003-04, competing in 72 of 82 games, winning 25 of them and lowering his goals against average to 2.43.
Luongo's career in Florida came to an end in the summer of 2006. The Florida Panthers traded Luongo to the Vancouver Canucks with Lukas Krajicek, and a 6th round draft pick in exchange for Todd Bertuzzi, Alex Auld, and Bryan Allen.
In Luongo's first season in Vancouver, he set a new career high for wins with 47 and was named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, Hart Memorial Trophy, and the Lester B. Pearson Award. In the post-season that year, Luongo set a new NHL record for shots faced in a single game with 72 and went on to lead his club past the Dallas Stars. The Canucks were eventually eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks, and failed to qualify for the playoffs the following season.
Changes were made to the Vancouver Cancucks line-up throughout the summer of 2008. Long-time Cancuks Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison were on the move and the club's General Manager was replaced. With the departure of Naslund, new General Manager Mike Gillis announced on September 30, 2008 that Luongo had been named team captain. It was the first time an NHL club named a goaltender captain since the Montreal Canadiens named Bill Durnan their leader 1947.
Aside from his World Junior experience and inaugural World Championship experience in 2001, Luongo backstopped Canada to back-to-back gold medals at the 2003 and 2004 World Championships, while helping win silver in 2005. In addition, Luongo was part of the Canadian team that captured gold on home soil at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
The 2010-11 season would be a good one for Vancouver and Luongo. Backstopped by the goaltender's strong play, the Canucks would finish the regular season in first place, earning the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in franchise history. Luongo and teammate Cory Schneider shared the William M. Jennings Trophy which is given to "the goalkeeper(s) having played a minimum of 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against in the NHL's regular season.